Missing Drive Had No Clinton Administration Records

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No original Clinton Administration records were stored on an external hard drive missing at the U.S. National Archives and Recording Administration (NARA), the agency said this afternoon.

The NARA has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the hard drive. The Archives has all of the original tapes and a backup hard drive containing the same information on the missing drive, meaning no data has been permanently lost.

The agency on Tuesday disclosed that an external hard drive believed to contain nearly 1TB of data from the Clinton Administration -- some of it sensitive information -- had gone missing.

The data on the missing drive included more than 100,000, Social Security numbers and home addresses of numerous people who visited or worked at the White House. Included in the list is one of then-Vice President Al Gore's three daughters. Also on the drive were details about the security procedures used by the U.S. Secret Service at the White House, event logs, social gathering logs, political records and other information from the Clinton administration years.

Bill Clinton was president from January 1993 to January 2001.

According to the statement released this afternoon, the 2-TB drive was being used for "routine re-copying" as part of a records preservation process. The small 2.5-pound Western Digital MY Book external hard drive contained information from about 113, 4mm tape cartridges and weighs about 2.5 pounds. The tapes contained "snapshots" of the contents of hard drives of employees leaving from the Executive Offices of the President and contained both federal and Presidential records.

The drive disappeared from a processing room at the National Archives and was last seen sometime between October 2008 and the first week of February; officials realized it was missing around March 24. The loss was discovered when the processing office apparently wanted to do an analysis on the drive to see if an automated tool could be used to validate the data it contained. The validating of data until then had been done by staff members who were reassigned to other projects in March.

It is still unclear whether the drive was misplaced or stolen. But the NARA has added new physical controls over archived records, revamped office access measures and updated processes for handling personally identifiable information. A criminal investigation has also been launched by the NARA's office of the Inspector General and the FBI.

News of the missing drive sparked some concern among lawmakers who were briefed on it Tuesday by the NARA's inspector general. Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in a statement issued yesterday, called it an "egregious breach" that raised significant questions about the effectiveness of the security controls in place at the Archives. Issa said that the NARA's inspector general had told the committee that the hard drive had gone missing in an area where at least 100 employees and numerous janitors, visitors and interns had access to it.

Meanwhile Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he would be holding briefings on the ongoing investigations to "begin to understand the magnitude of the security breach."

This story, "Missing Drive Had No Clinton Administration Records" was originally published by Computerworld.

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